Friday, March 4, 2011

First Annual 4 Orange Classic Cocktail Competition at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival

The promo models for 4 Orange Premium Vodka stood ready as the crowds came rushing into the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Friday, Feb. 25. The girls lured the masses into the Kitchen Aid tent by passing out tasty samplings of the classic Screwdriver, 4 Orange Mojito and the Miami Mojito (a personal favorite), and handing out totes full of chapsticks, candies, and the 4 Orange Wayfarer-style sunglasses that were nearly impossible to keep stocked. More than 3,500 tastings (more than 1,000 an hour!) were served, giving guests a fresh-from-the-grove taste of the world’s first vodka made from Florida oranges.

Max Solano with his winning cocktail, the "South Beach Sling"
Food and wine enthusiasts were greeted by a set-up that looked straight out of a Food Network show, with vintage wooden orange crates, fresh oranges, glass carafes, and orange trees that evoked the classic simplicity of Old Florida and prompted festival founder Lee Schrager to tweet “Great stage.” 4 Orange Vodka was the proud Silver Sponsor of the Festival. They also participated in the Wine Spectator Trade Tasting and the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village.

Then the 4 Orange Premium Vodka First Annual Classic Cocktail Competition began. After months of prep, the top 10 mixologists and bartenders from across the country prepared their original 4 Orange Vodka cocktail to be sampled and judged by an expert panel. Las Vegas’s Max Solano trumped the competition, winning a $3,000 cash prize, trophy and the coveted title of U.S. Champion 2011.

A fan of vintage cocktails (who isn’t?), Max used the basis of an old-school Sling for his version: the “South Beach Sling.” He used four different orange flavors in his recipe, which took five days to develop and used sparkling wine in place of club soda. Solano traveled to the competition from Las Vegas, Nevada, the mecca of the food and beverage industry, as the Mixologist and Beverage Director for two of Chef Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian Hotel and Table 10 at the Palazzo Hotel.
Ashley Carter, New York, and 3rd Place winner, Paul Sevigny, Miami 
Victoria D’Amato-Moran placed second with her “Julius Temple,” a spin on the vintage 1920s Orange Julius dessert made with oranges, vanilla and cream. Taking third was Miami local Paul Sevigny, who has been setting the standard for Miami’s cocktail scene at The Florida Room in the Delano. Sevigny poured his “Purple Haze” in a mason jar for a rustic feel, adding ice crushed with a meat cleaver for an old-school touch. He finished the cocktail with a thyme garnish, sun-dried fig and a steel straw.

After a whirlwind day, Gab and 4 Orange pulled off a successful competition. The three winners were not the only ones to walk away with cash, though - 4 Orange donated a generous $3,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida. Now that the hype is over, it’s time to relax… But not for long. Mixologists and bartenders, get your recipes down and you shakers ready for next year’s 2nd Annual Classic Cocktail Competition! For more information, visit

Tony Johnson, Minneapolis
Dustin Haarstad, San Diego
Andres Sanchez, Philadelphia
Joshua Smith, Denver

Max Solano from Las Vegas walks away with 1st Place prize of $3,000

Victoria D'Amato-Moran, San Franciso, wins 2nd with her cocktail "Julius Temple."

Paul Sevigny, Miami, wins 3rd with his cocktail "Purple Haze."


  1. By far, my favorite Gab Group event ever! Take me back to the beach!! :)

  2. All that running around was totally worth it! Who wouldn't love spending the day on South Beach?

  3. Looked amazing!! Get me a 4 Orange cocktail!